Memorial weekend is when a lot of people get their boats out for the first time of the year. It has been a year or perhaps your first time, he is 5 things to remember.

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Memorial Weekend in Michigan

Westport, CT, USAthese boats anchored in the sound on a clear September day,
Svetlane Raboy/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Every year a pure Michigan tradition for some families is to get their boat ready and on the water on Memorial weekend so the boat is ready for the summer.

In West Michigan, we have tons of lakes, rivers, and access to Lake Michigan for all types of boating from big to small, and everything in between.


It doesn't matter your boat size or even jet ski, there are some things you need to make sure you do before getting on any of our Michigan waters.

5 Things To Do To Get Your Watercraft Ready

Bass boat in the lake.

Some of you old salts already know what to do when getting your boat ready but there are a lot of newbies or people who have not done it in a while that will find this list useful.

1. Boaters Safety Certificate

Couple riding jet ski

Yes, a jet ski is a watercraft and along with a boat, it is a great idea to take a boater safety course.

It is not required that adults take this class but still a good idea if you have not. Any youths planning on operating a boat or a jet ski have to take the class and have proof of certification with them while operating the watercraft on a Michigan lake or river.

speed boat in tropical sea

The class is simple to take since you can do it online through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. If you are wondering who in the family needs to take the safety class, click here.

2. Know The Rules of the Body of Water

Simon McGill/Getty Images
Simon McGill/Getty Images

Each body of water has different rules than the other. Some lakes have times you can be on the water, others have no-wake zones and even speed zones. If you don't know what a particular lake or river rules are, reach out to the local township in the area of the body of water you are going to be on.

3. Make Sure Your Boat is Safe

A big pontoon boat anchored in the river with fishing poles and the canopy up.

It is very important for you to check out your boat when getting it out for the first time of the season. Make sure everything is working, check the hull, and make sure your engine is well kept so you don't get stuck out on the water.

Modern motor boat on the trailer for transportation

Check out your boat trailer. Make sure all the lights and turn signals are working. Check your tires, and make sure your spare is good and filled with air. Grease any fittings that may need it.

4. Proper Number of Life Jackets

Two kids in the bow of a motorboat acting out a scene from the movie "Titanic".

If you have passengers on your boat, make sure and have a life jacket for each person. If you have 9 people on your boat, you better have 9 life jackets. If you have kids, make sure you have the proper life jacket for them especially if they are 6 or under because they have to have theirs on at all times.

5. Practice Safe Boating

mature man driving speedboat

Just like driving an automobile, it is important to practice safe driving with your boat on the water. A lot of Michigan lakes can get congested with several boats and if boats are pulling skiers, wakeboarders, rafts, and tubes, it is important to always be looking ahead. It is much harder to spot someone who fell off a raft than a nearby so you have to keep scanning the waterway in front of you.

Stay away from driving recklessly and doing figure eights. Many boaters are not paying attention so if you are manning a watercraft, it is so important for you to always know what is located in every direction around you. Don't assume the other boat sees you.

Stunning image of a luxurious boat racing through the ocean in sunlight

Allow yourself plenty of time to turn, slow down and stop. Always adhere to the body of water you may be on and if they have a speed limit. There is a reason for limits.

If it is a body of water you have not driven your boat on, it is a good practice to take a slow drive to look out for logs, dead trees, weeds, shallow spots, and anything that might cause your boat harm or could lead to a crash.

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